NEWS

A-G: Social Media Abuse Questioned

Fiji has one of the highest literacy rate in the Pacific but the level of debate on cyber space does not reflect that, says Attorney- General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. While wrapping
11 Dec 2017 11:26
A-G: Social Media Abuse Questioned
On the margins of 19th Attorney-General’s Conference, Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Education Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum met with Senior Education Officials to discuss the progress of the civil service reforms amongst other key issues. Photo: DEPTFO News

Fiji has one of the highest literacy rate in the Pacific but the level of debate on cyber space does not reflect that, says Attorney- General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

While wrapping up the 19th Attorney-General’s Conference where a session was held on whether the cyber space need to be regulated Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the cyber space can be used for much more than what it was being used for currently, which is highly focused on antagonizing people and outright defaming people.

And there was a unanimous agreement from the panel that there is a need to regulate the cyber space.

Apart from Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho, other speakers such as Andrew Stewart, a partner in Baker McKenzie, an international law firm, Ashwin Raj, Director of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, and Ivan Fong who is the chief executive officer of Amalgamated Telecom Holdings Limited all agreed that people cannot be allowed off scot-free for comments that they made on social media.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum while wrapping up the conference showed  participants a photo of a group of four people, three of whom were working at the Office of the Attorney-General had been posted up on a forum where derogatory remarks had been made about them.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum questioned whether such remarks would have been allowed in mainstream media and if not, why should it be allowed on social media?

He said this was a matter of having the right laws in the country and there are laws in Fiji which protect people from vilification on social media.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said derogatory comments and comments which incite antagonism cannot be allowed under the guise of freedom of expression.

He said a number of people would be in agreement that given the history of Nazi Germany, they are right in disallowing certain remarks on social media, but if the same laws and policies are implemented in Fiji, people would be up in arms about it.

He pointed out the hypocrisy of this. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum put the spotlight on the people who are quick to call for unrest and antagonism in Fiji and revealed that these people are lashing out because they no longer get Government contracts or Government tenders because these contracts now go to people who do the job better.

He said their motives need to be questioned. He questioned what the impact of such discussions were on all our relations as Fijians.

He shared a story of a child falling off a vehicle in Suva and a woman clutching his arms and asking whether the child was a ‘Fijian’ or ‘Indian’.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the sense of grief, of compassion, of empathy must be determined because they are fellow human beings and not by their race.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj



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